The new era of regional/varsity teams being formed to complement these national-level squads has led to a lot of player movement over the last few years. Generally speaking, these groups are often overlooked by college coaches and brushed aside in favor of the more 'highly touted' prospects. However, Liberty Heights Varsity has the perfect blend of depth, talent, style, and coaching to compete with anyone'especially in North Carolina. Although it's their first year together, the chemistry is already glaringly evident through their unwavering success on the court. Coach AJ Jones has truly done a phenomenal job of making this squad among the best across the state. Now, it's time for offers to start coming in. Let's take a closer look'
Things really seem to start with the brotherly duo of 6'3 Takai Simpkins and 6'4 Tajuan Simpkins. Combined, they probably have the most bizarre recruiting situation in the region. They want to play together at the next level, but college coaches are largely unwilling at this point. Why' They've thrived, not just coexisted, as a pairing for the entirety of their respective playing careers'including with their current squad. Folks see an issue arising because the twins are widely seen as different levels of ability. Two things: First, they complement each other as well as any two players in the state. Secondly, the gap of separation is not quite as big as it's being made out to be. Though Takai typically operates as the main floor general, Tajuan is more than comfortable at initiating the offense with the ball in his hands. The duo prefers an up-tempo style of play (primarily due to their incredible defensive prowess and ability to force turnovers), but are still quite effective within the half-court. Tajuan is a sharp cutter and utilizes his size very well to outmaneuver opponents around the basket. On the other hand, Takai is regarded for his shooting and instincts for making plays off the bounce. Both guys excel at playing hard, forcing turnovers, and working interchangeably on either side of the ball. They have all the makings of two guys who would outperform expectations.
Arguably no one on the roster has boosted their individual stock as much as 6'4 Chas Stinson. Given his approach and well-rounded skillset, he naturally produces as the main glue-guy for the Cardinals. Stinson displays no glaring weaknesses and can legitimately do everything on both ends of the floor. His blend of length, athleticism, and sheer versatility allows him to reliably contain various types of opponents on defense. Stinson can easily toggle between defending guards, wings, and even some interior players. He can expand his production and take over a game if necessary, but also excels at being an adaptable, complementary piece. Stinson is smart, tough, and skilled with quality vision and three-level scoring prowess. He's a full-scholarship wing prospect who is worthy of increased action within his recruitment.
Though this team doesn't necessarily have any 'traditional' big men, 6'7 Josiah Dow has more than flourished as the man in the middle. He typically serves as the primary interior piece as a rebounder and defensive anchor, displaying the willingness and understanding to utilize his body to secure rebounds and successfully wall-up. Dow has also shown clear improvement in terms of mobility, and does a nice job of hedging screens and switching onto smaller opponents when needed. He's definitely not bound to the paint'which is only further evidenced by his skilled offensive identity. At a strong 6-foot-7, Dow is a really challenging defensive assignment for opponents. He's extremely efficient in all scoring areas, from cutting to posting-up to rolling or popping in the two-man game. Dow has really addressed all of his weaknesses during his time with Liberty Heights and, like his teammates above, is deserving of scholarship opportunities.
The roster is somewhat guard-heavy, but it's no problem with backcourt pieces like 6'3 David Wilkerson and 6'0 Joel Torres'who are scrappy, adaptable, and able to play bigger than their size would imply. In looking at Wilkerson, he's a very well-rounded guard who looks to find chances within the flow of the action. He knows how to position himself to score, both with and without the ball in his hands, and can apply consistent pressure from all levels. Wilkerson is a reliable defender and displays feel on both ends of the floor. Meanwhile, Torres is as rugged as anyone on the team. He's a capable ball-handler and overall scoring threat, but really excels at doing the dirty work and fighting for every loose ball or extra opportunity available. Torres is a menace defensively, both at the point of attack and when intercepting passing lanes, and forces turnovers at a consistent rate. Both guys visibly contribute to the success of this team, and should be recruited as such.
Rounding off the group of seniors, 6'5 Dominick Nelson and 6'4 Jabez Worthington are two more guys who should appeal to various types of college programs. Nelson possesses great size for his position, which allows him to regularly showcase flashes of versatility and the ability to score from all levels. He utilizes his length well to finish as a penetrator, but also does a nice job of making the extra pass whenever possible. Add in his useful presence as a defender and rebounder, and it's easy to see him being successful at the next level. Meanwhile, Worthington has actually spent time on both Liberty Heights rosters. He's another adaptable glue-guy who doesn't need the ball in order to be successful. Worthington plays with a high motor, contains his assignment effectively, and fills in the gaps offensively.
In looking at the Cardinals' only two non-seniors, 6'5 '23 Kaleb Hedgepeth and 6'7 '25 Yohan Guttierez, it's easy to stay excited about the future. Hedgepeth has always been a talented prospect, but has really progressed through embracing his role with this group. He's a strong, sturdy forward prospect with a useful amount of skill and versatility. Hedgepeth is able to cause some matchup problems, given the fact that he's too powerful for smaller opponents and too skilled for most interior defenders. He's also capable finisher, shooter, and rebounder with the ability to push the break if necessary. However, it's impossible to talk about the long-term intrigue of this squad without mentioning Guttierez. The long, wiry, sharpshooting freshman prospect has as much upside as anyone in the program. He's young but already seems very comfortable operating within his role on both ends of the floor. Guttierez provides great energy, defends his position well, and knocks down jumpers at a high percentage. It's still somewhat early, but folks should be aware of these two.